Digging in for battle

CONTROVERSIAL plans by a private company to build 700 allotments in Abbots Leigh have been voted down — but could soon be back on the table.

Roots Allotments co-founder Christian Samuel said he was “very disappointed” in the decision by North Somerset Council to reject his organisation’s application for a certificate of lawful development.

Roots argued it should be able to have the certificate — which avoids the need to seek full planning permission — because the site, a field to the east of the A369 opposite the entrance to Clifton College sports ground, was simply changing from one type of agriculture to another.

Councillors unanimously rejected the application over a technicality about the matting used for the planned 80-space car park at the allotment site.

So now Mr Samuel says Roots will reapply for the certificate, this time without the planned car parking. He says 68 per cent of allotment holders have said they will not drive to the site.

Six hundred people have already signed up for allotments at the site, which cost more than council allotments — at £9.99 to £34.99 a month — but include seeds, courses, and access to tools. Mr Samuel said: “We have just got to fight for these 600 people because we feel extremely let down.” He added that the company had given refunds to anyone who had asked for them.

Mr Samuel said he was very disappointed in the council. 

The council sent the plans back to Roots when they first came before the planning committee in July to ask for more information about other activities on the site. Local councillor Jenna Ho Marris said: ”I’m relieved that this application was refused unanimously by the planning committee.  Of course we support more people growing their own fruit and veg, but like any change of land use it needs to go through proper planning.”

By John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service